Wednesday, February 7, 2018

10 Books That Made Me Into the Reader I Am Today

I recently read a blog post by Gail Carriger where she discussed the books that have impacted her the most and made her into the author she is today. Her post got me thinking about the books that made me the reader I am today. Like everyone who reads this blog, I have those childhood favorites that cemented my love for reading but I also got to thinking about other books I've read that have also significantly impacted as a reader. As readers, we can all agree that our reading tastes have evolved and changed throughout our lives. There have been books that have introduced me to specific genres or the books that reignited my interest in genres I got burnt out on. Those are the books I want to talk about today.

I can't talk about this subject without mentioning The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. This book was THE book that got me into fantasy. It was everything 8 year old Rose Red ever wanted. It had magic, swords, beautiful horses, and a badass female heroine. I fell head over heels in love and I had an immediate need to read all the fantasy books I could get my hands on. This book opened up whole new worlds for me and I haven't looked back since.

Ender's Game was my introduction to the world of science fiction and one of the books I vividly remember reading under my blanket with a flashlight. I was intrigued by the notion of a military school in space and I couldn't put it down once I had started. I was blown away by the concept of space travel and I wanted more as soon as I finished. I'm so thankful my middle school librarian who handed this to me to read and was ready with a bunch of recommendations for me as soon as I brought the book back.

I've loved reading ever since I sat down and read my first picture book but the Harry Potter series was the first book that introduced me to the book community. I grew up with Harry. I was almost twelve when I picked the first book up. And I hadn't realized up until then that I could talk about the books I'd read with people other than my family and my local librarians. I loved everything about the experience! I went to midnight release parties and discussed with others in line my theories about what was going to happen in the next book. I found people to discuss the books with in my school as soon as we'd finished them. It was also the series that introduced me to fandom and fanfiction. This series will forever hold a special place in my heart.

You all know how much I adore the urban fantasy genre. The thing is I'm fairly new to it considering how long people have been writing books in it. I was briefly introduced to the genre in Robin McKinley's Sunshine but it wasn't until I picked up Hounded by Kevin Hearne on a whim that I really became obsessed with reading every UF book I could get my hands on. I started the series right before book five came out and I binged the first four in less than two days. I was hooked. I immediately went to the "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought" section of Amazon and browsed for similar books. I ended up picking up the first Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels books. I'm so glad I did. Urban fantasy is one genre I've never grown bored with.

A few years ago I was convinced I had read everything that YA had to offer. I was so sick of love triangles and it seemed that almost every YA book I had picked up was the same as the one I had just finished reading. I ended up giving up on the whole age group as a whole and read mostly adult books for a few years. The Raven Boys is the book that reignited my interest in YA as a whole. It convinced me that there were lots of YA books that I would love. I just needed to find them. I still DNF quite a few but I have discovered lots of YA books in the last two years that have become all-time favorites. But most importantly, I'm excited for upcoming YA books again.

Around the time I read The Blue Sword, I found a book about a cross-dressing thief called Mairelon the Magician. I instantly fell in love with the scrappy street thief, Kim, and the eccentric street magician, Mairelon, and their adventures. This book was the first book I ever bought for myself and it was the book that introduced me to both the fantasy of manners genre and the concept of alternate history. I quickly fell in love with the idea of a Regency novel with magic. Fantasy of manners is still one of my go to favorite genre.

During my high school years, I read so many epic and high fantasy novels that I burnt myself out on them. I couldn't stand to look at them and I had devoted myself to reading all the romantic suspense and Dirk Pitt-esque adventure novels I could get my hands on. I was a junior in college when my librarian recommended Poison Study to me. I devoured it in one sitting and went back the same day to check out the next two books. I loved it! It got me back into fantasy while introducing me to the fantasy romance genre as a whole. It's still my go-to fantasy romance rec to give out.

My introduction to the steampunk genre was very unconventional compared to other readers of the genre. My first steampunk book was The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. I hadn't even known that steampunk was a thing before I read it. This quirky Alice in Wonderland retelling is what lead me to more mainstream steampunk like Gail Carriger's books but it will always have a special place on my bookshelf for introducing me to one of my favorite genres.

I'm going to cheat and use two books on this one because I honestly can't remember which one I read first as a kid. I have been obsessed with fairy tales since I was a wee lass listening to stories at my grandpa's knee. Imagine my delight when I picked up Ella Enchanted and Beauty and discovered the fairy tale retellings were a thing. It lead quickly into an obsession where I read every fairy tale retelling I could get my hands on. I love the retelling subgenre SO much! It just encompasses so many of my favorite things. Even all these years later, when given a choice, I will pick up the fairy tale retelling 7 out of 10 times.

As a teen, I discovered this magical series of historical fiction companion novels and it was everything my little history loving heart never knew it needed. I devoured every Sunfire Romance novel my library owned. I loved them! I loved the historical settings and I even loved the fact that each heroine had to choose between two guys. Yes. I have evidence that I haven't always hated love triangles. After I finished that series, I had a hard time finding historical fiction that kept my attention without having magic or paranormal elements in the mix. It was years before I found one that reignited my love for the genre. That book was Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! It was everything I remembered loving about the historical fiction genre and I am always here for flirty heroes and witty banter. I've found several historical fiction novels since I read this one that have become favorites and I can't thank Kerri Maniscalco enough for helping to remember why I love this genre.

What books helped you become the reader you are today?


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